Chris Moerdyk
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Chris Moerdyk
Marketing Tips

How to get boards of directors to take marketing seriously

The biggest problem faced by brand managers, PRO's, ad and events people and marketers in general is that their clients or boards of directors don't take them seriously.
Which is why I seem to be spending more and more of my time these days doing presentations to boards, CEO's, FD's and groups of accountants. Demonstrating to them in their own language that all the elements of marketing are useful business tools and not part of some sort of frivolous lottery.

Of course, it's probably the marketing industry's own fault that they are misunderstood by the powers that be. Mainly because marketers have this habit of reinventing wheels with new-fangled names and talking in a language that boards of directors simply do not understand and rather than look like idiots, they simply switch off.

There was a time when sombre-suited business leaders were impressed with people from ad agencies, dressed weirdly and talking hype, mostly about advertising and PR. But not anymore, because there is simply too much money involved.

My approach is to talk to them on their own terms and their own turf. Wearing a suit and tie if they do and speaking in a language that they understand. Talking about measurement, returns on investment and all those other things that, strangely enough are actually what marketing is all about.

My approach is not to go in a do a selling job for marketing. To promote advertising, PR, event management, sponsorship and all the other elements of the marketing mix. But rather to demonstrate how, when accountants, lawyers, directors and non-marketing managers go about their own business, without knowing it, they are employing marketing day in and day out.

And it is not difficult to do because marketing and particularly its high profile elements such as branding, advertising and PR, are not at all intended to be as glitzy as they are made out to be. They are just tools like anything else. All of them entirely measureable and all of them applied on the basis of investments rather than gambles.

It is quite remarkable today that so many brand managers, marketing managers, ad agencies and ad managers, PR consultants and corporate public affairs executives, still battle away trying to bridge the huge ideological and language divide that separates them from their clients, bosses or boards of directors.

Even more remarkable is that I've found that when I talk to them in their own language and approach marketing from the point of view of pragmatism and relevance, they catch on to what it is actually all about very quickly indeed.

And best of all, relationships between marketers and non-marketers in the company corncerned improves overnight. Sometimes it is an ongoing exercise depending on the size of a board and the executive management structure. But quite often, all it takes is an hour of their time.

8 Jun 2007 10:58


About Chris Moerdyk

Apart from being a corporate marketing analyst, advisor and media commentator, Chris Moerdyk is a former chairman of Bizcommunity. He was head of strategic planning and public affairs for BMW South Africa and spent 16 years in the creative and client service departments of ad agencies, ending up as resident director of Lindsay Smithers-FCB in KwaZulu-Natal. Email Chris on moc.liamg@ckydreom and follow him on Twitter at @chrismoerdyk.